Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review - A Killer's Christmas in Wales by Elizabeth J. Duncan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was looking for a Christmas mystery and came across this title. I found the Wales location and the introduction of a spa interesting. This is the third entry in the series; I haven’t read the first one and didn’t really feel that it mattered.

The mystery solver is Penny Brannigan, one of the owners of the future spa located in Llanelen, Wales. She’s likable as is her business partner, Victoria Hopkirk, and boyfriend, DCI Gareth Davies. The book opens with a mystery, the body of a young woman and dog found during the renovation of their future spa. It’s starts out as just background and pretty much stays there, however, she does play into the mystery a bit.

The story really revolves around Mrs. Lloyd and her infatuation with Harry Saunders, who is eventually murdered (something you sort of see coming). Shortly after Harry’s demise, another member of the village, a relative new comer, is also murdered. Throw in some petty thefts at the local second hand store and there is the mystery. Mrs. Lloyd and her house mate, Florence, through as series of bad decisions and circumstances come to be somewhat suspect in Harry’s murder. They ask Penny for help. Penny doesn’t just jump in and help, but she does offer to do what she can while encouraging the two ladies to take what they know to the police. As she was near the scene of the murder at the time that it occurred and because some things don’t really add up to her, she does offer to help where she can.

The mystery isn’t fast moving, but it’s enjoyable. I did figure out one of the relationships in this book, but I didn’t figure out who the killer was. In fact the story is set up so that you think it could be any number of people.

I enjoyed Penny’s relationship with her boyfriend and the fact that she was a very low key sleuth. She wasn’t all over the place, sneaking into rooms or around properties. She did sleuth, but it was all very natural and it wasn’t her overriding goal. She was curious and happened to pick up on things and in the end, she connected the dots. And, she called her cop boyfriend when she did rather than trying to round up the killer herself.

I liked the town, the people and the relationships. I also liked that various Welsh names were used, it was a welcome change of pace. And, as I did pick this up for a Christmas read, I enjoyed Christmas in this book. It wasn’t all about the gifts or the shopping. It was about church and dinner with friends... the things that truly matter.

The one thing that bothered me was that while the body of the woman was identified, her death wasn’t resolved. She disappeared many years ago, but her death and how she came to be buried in the spa was not explained. Future mystery maybe?

Not sure if I’ll read more in this series, but I might.

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